Sunday Confessional: I wanted to shove a woman in a ditch

I went for a run on the trails this morning and, as is my routine, wore a bandana around my neck. Whenever I see someone coming my direction, I stop to pull it over my nose and mouth. I do this because running makes me breathe more heavily and I want to minimize the possibility of me infecting someone if I somehow have Covid (and am asymptomatic). Because this was a Sunday, I encountered a greater number of people on the trails (walkers, runners, and one mountain biker). I was the only one masked, but that was fine, and each encounter was friendly. (Okay, the mountain biker reactivated my animus by being an entitled trail-hog.)

Near the end of the run, I saw a person coming toward me. I stopped, masked, moved over to the right, and started running again. When I got closer I realized it was a woman who lives on my street, and I waved hello. Her reply?

She scoffed and yelled, “I’m triple vaccinated!”

As I continued running, I said some bad things out loud to myself. Mostly WTF and what kind of monster shames mask-wearers during a freaking global pandemic and then some stuff about that woman’s intelligence level plus a few choice words about our useless government and how this pandemic is only going to get worse. Whew. Then I reminded myself I was running on narrow, uneven trails with lots of rocks sticking up and that it would truly suck to trip, fall, and add to my collection of scars. So I began chanting my trail-running mantra:

Feet on the ground. Feet on the ground. Feet on the ground.

Image by yellowcat from Pixabay

It worked. I let go of the emotions and made it home without injury. And in writing this out, I just realized that mantra is probably a good all-around reminder to help me stay in the moment during these difficult days.

Feet on the ground.

Thankful Thursday: focusing on fun

A friend who knows my love of birds passed along this 500-piece puzzle after she’d put it together. I started working on it late last night. First, I turned all the pieces right-side-up on the table and took a quick pic which I texted to her with “Let the puzzling begin!”

Her reply: “I hope you don’t get addicted like I did and have a hard time stopping.” ūüė¨

I told her not to worry, that even if I did get addicted, it was fine by me.

Welp, I spent more time today working on this puzzle than attending to most other things on my To Do list. But it felt good for my brain and mental health, so I don’t begrudge the distraction. Plus, it’s birds!

My Saturday

Emma and I ran on the trails this morning. It was my first outdoor exercise in over a week because of the horrific air quality. While the morning’s AQI wasn’t Great, I just couldn’t take another treadmill session. Running outside felt like a reasonable trade-off between lung health and mental health. I brought water for us and we did a mellow 3-miles with me urging her on most of the way. Halfway through the run, she pooped. I scooped it into a rice cake bag, knotted it off, and tied the bag to her collar. It’s tricky enough holding her leash while trail-running (sudden stops and detours really increase the likelihood of wipe-outs) and adding a poop sack was more than I could handle. The good news is Emma didn’t really seem to notice. (I did feel like a bad human-friend once we got back on the streets and ran past people from the neighborhood, Emma’s poop sack swinging for all to see.)

When we returned home, I saw a missed call from Wildebeest. I called back and we ended up conversing for nearly two hours about all sorts of things. While talking, I took my camera outside and continued our conversation on speaker phone as I photographed the zillions of bees on the fern bush.

I eventually told Wildebeest what I was doing, knowing he might freak out or, at the least, get really twitchy and itchy. (When he was a teenager, he got stung by a bee while at outdoor camp and was taken to the nearest hospital where he was jabbed with an epi pen. As bee sting reactions go, his wasn’t uber-serious. Yes, his throat did close a bit but, in his words, he had plenty of time to get to the hospital.) Turned out, my announcement didn’t send him spiraling. However, I’m pretty sure he wouldn’t have waded into the fern bush with me to get close-up shots.

And I know for a fact he would’ve steered clear of this specimen:

Yikes. A quick online search for “red wasp” tells me this species isn’t even supposed to be in Colorado?? And I saw several of them on the bush??

Reward: three of my favorite things

Bees, blooms, and butterflies.

Showy Milkweed and pollinators.  July 9, 2021

I’m posting this photo as my reward for all I’ve accomplished today:

  • Exercise (indoor, again)
  • Revised a chapter
  • Healthy (mostly) eating
  • Finished Shirley Jackson’s LIFE AMONG THE SAVAGES
  • Swept the floor
  • Stayed the hell off Twitter (mostly)
  • Focused (mostly) on things within my control
  • Played with Emma and snuggled with Marcel (and allowed Loki to nap without interruption)

Yes, I’m one of those people who derive great satisfaction from checklists. And they’re especially important to me on days in which I feel very close to the edge.

Well done, Tracy.

Inner sunshine

I just had a session with my therapist and feel really good!

July 4, 2021

Lighter.
Liberated.
Exhilarated.

Wishing those same feelings for everyone out there. Happy Monday!

Self-care

It’s been a hard day and I’m trying to accomplish tasks here and there in order to stay out of my head. Weeding the front flower beds, laundry, and vacuuming. Reading and writing a tiny bit. Kissing sweet Emma on the head. While all those things were constructive and helpful, they aren’t enough. That’s why I’m posting this photo — so that I can revisit the peaceful image as needed.

Lamb’s Ear and honey bee.¬† ¬†July 3, 2021

And I invite anyone in need of a break from the stresses of reality to do the same.

When the going gets tough

We woke in the middle of the night to the smell of wildfire smoke. Zippy shut off the swamp cooler and closed all windows. It’s only June and wildfire season has begun.

Image by Steve Buissinne from Pixabay

Since early May, I’ve run every other day and that routine has been crucial for my mental health. I haven’t yet missed a running day and when I got up this morning, I felt so many emotions about the climate crisis and the lack of political will to do anything about it. My despair mounted and, more than ever, I needed to run. The good news is we have a 20+ year-old treadmill (that’s gone through multiple running belts over the years) and I ran on that for 25 minutes. I pounded out the miles, my mind clearing as sweat slicked my skin.

This afternoon I made the mistake of going on Twitter where I came across this tweet:

And I began to spin some more, the anxiety and rage building. So, did I hop on the treadmill again? Nope. This time I began rereading one of my very favorite books:

I highly recommend any book by Cynthia Kadohata, but especially THE THING ABOUT LUCK which is funny and tender and makes my heart sing. *happy sigh*

I have to keep reminding myself that electoral politics is not going to save us. We the people must rise up as one and stand together against the rich and powerful. In the meanwhile, I’m focusing on mutual aid in my community in addition to lots and lots of running and reading.

This day’s been hard, but I’m still standing.

Hairy situation

Like many others, I cut my own hair over the past year. I watched YouTube videos and gave it my best shot with results that were completely acceptable for quarantine purposes. But as my hair grew out from the last cut, it began to look more and more as if I’d sawed it off with a dull knife. So I reached out to the stylist I’d been seeing for years.

Photo by cottonbro from Pexels

In my text, I let her know my family and I were fully vaccinated and asked if she was now taking appointments. She replied, “I’ve been working all this time.” She went on to say that she no longer worked at the salon but was traveling to people’s homes or having them come to her home.

That response raised several red flags. But after taking another look at my hacked hair, I sent a text saying I’d be happy to have her come to my home. I also said that if she wasn’t vaccinated, I’d want us to both wear masks. Hours passed before she replied with an available appointment date/time. Nothing else. With great trepidation, I accepted the appointment for last Friday.

Three days later, I’m still gobsmacked by her attitude. She wore a mask . . . under her nose. When I greeted her and asked how she was doing she replied, “I’m fine” in a tone that suggested this whole silly global pandemic thing had been blown way out of proportion. Ugh. But I was committed, so we went out onto the patio to get started. And as she trimmed/cleaned up my bad cuts, I asked why she was no longer at the salon. She replied, “After COVID, I couldn’t go back.”

My immediate thought was, “You’ve got this all wrong, Tracy! She just didn’t want to be in an unsafe working environment which makes total sense.”

Then she went on to say, “I couldn’t take all the rules and regulations.”

Say what?! All I could think (as this woman wielded sharp scissors around my head) was that she was incredibly selfish. I mean, we’re up to nearly 600k dead people in the U.S. alone and her biggest issue was the rules and regulations?!

Did I say any of that to her? No. Do I regret not speaking up? Kinda, sorta. While people like that need to be called out, I don’t believe my words would make one bit of difference. Also? Sharp scissors.

I won’t be utilizing her services anymore. But the one good thing that came of our appointment was her response to the sight of my older-woman long hair: “So you’re not doing short hair anymore?” That comment got me to take a long, hard look at my appearance and I’ve decided I’m going back to short hair. I have an appointment for Wednesday at a new-to-me salon that enforces a whole bunch of COVID rules and regulations. I can’t wait.

Natural refuge

I go to nature to be soothed and healed, and to have my senses put in order.
~John Burroughs

Canada Goose on nest at Sawhill Ponds. May 6, 2021

It feels as if there’s been an acceleration of the cruelty and inhumanity happening in the world and while I feel the need to bear witness to the suffering (notably that which is sponsored by my government to the tune of $10 million/day which allows Israel to commit genocide against Palestinian people), it wears me down. Nature helps me keep going. Nature is my refuge.

 

As always, I am exceedingly grateful for its many splendors.

Nature’s timeline

I took this photo a year ago today. As I recall, it was a balmy day filled with bird songs and busy bees.  We were in the early days of the pandemic and communing with backyard nature was balm for my soul.

April 27, 2020

Today, plenty of birds are singing on this cool and rainy day. However, the shrub in the photo is behind last year’s schedule –buds still folded up tight –and I’ve yet to see a bee in the yard. We’re still experiencing a global pandemic, but the blooms and bees are on their way. And when they arrive, I’ll be out there again, drinking in all their glory.

Taking the risk

And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.  ~ Elizabeth Appell

April 8, 2021

This feels like a universal quote that applies to all of us, possibly on multiple levels. Here’s hoping we all blossom in one way or another this week. Remember, spring is the season of new growth. (And yes, I’m also speaking to myself here.)

Conflicted

I’ve been struggling mightily with a family-of-origin issue and a while back reached out to the therapist I’d worked with years ago. Her client roster was full so I was put on a wait-list. Well, the wait is over. I’m both grateful and anxious she can now fit me into her schedule. My first appointment is in a few minutes and my insides are fluttering.

September 12, 2020

I know I need to do the work in order to move ahead. That doesn’t stop me from wishing for a magic wand that could make everything all better.

Echinacea for what ails me

You probably know that echinacea and its antioxidants are good for our physical health. It’s a widely-used herb with many applications.

Purple Coneflower aka echinacea. July 16, 2020.

What you might not know is that these vibrant plants are also what the doctor prescribes for cold, gray days. Guess you could say that echinacea is also an antigloom.

You heard it here first.

Personal aspiration

March 19, 2021

Yesterday was sunny and warm. Today’s temperature is 41 degrees colder than yesterday and the sky is gray. That shift in the weather, plus a whole lot of other stuff, has dampened my overall enthusiasm.

But I aspire to Batman’s exuberant outlook. So, while I’m not heading outside to slide down snowbanks in my Build-a-Bear undies, my plan is to fake it until I (hopefully) make it.

Worth a shot, anyway.

Dose 1: mixed feelings

This morning I received my first dose of the Pfizer vaccine. While I felt gratitude and relief to be halfway to fully vaccinated, I also felt anger, disgust, and shame. As with everything else in our system that puts profits over people (and planet), the Covid vaccine distribution is unequal. I’ve already blogged about some of the ways access is inequitable here in the U.S. (not to mention incarcerated people’s lack of access), but the situation is even more dire around the world.

Image by Mary Pahlke from Pixabay

The global death toll is currently at 2.77 million. Human decency would dictate that vaccines and vaccine patents be freely shared.¬† Nope. Big Pharma isn’t satisfied with the billions they make each year. They’re lobbying the Biden administration to clamp down on countries trying to increase production. Read this article and weep. And rage.

As the needle pierced my skin this morning, I thought about this excerpt from that article:

Albert Bourla, the CEO of Pfizer,¬†mocked¬†proposals for sharing¬†intellectual property as ‚Äúnonsense‚ÄĚ and ‚Äúdangerous‚ÄĚ at an industry forum last year. The vaccines are netting drug companies $21 billion this year alone, according to one¬†estimate by Bernstein Research.¬†

There you have it: Big Pharma scoffing at the the World Health Organization (WHO). Silly WHO, thinking people’s lives matter more than intellectual property.

So yeah, not totally thrilled to get that Pfizer shot in the arm.

Healthcare, schmealthcare rant

As of yesterday, I am eligible in Colorado for a covid vaccine. As of this moment, I’m about to pull out all my hair.

Photo by Karolina Grabowska from Pexels

Off and on today, I checked the various sites for vaccine alerts and availability. Every single time, the listings for available appointments were always false. I’d click on the link and get variations of “There are no more appointments at this site.” But just now, I was actually allowed to select a date and time for an appointment and I thought, “This is it!” I made it through the entire process, answering all the questions about allergies, health condition, etc., and then it came time to confirm my appointment. Confirmation? Yeah, right. I got “We’re all out of vaccine.”

I’m very fortunate to be able to commit time to trying to make an appointment. I don’t have an outside job. I have access to a working computer and the internet. If it’s this hard for me to find an appointment, how in the hell are people without my circumstances supposed to get vaccinated?

They’ve had a year to get their acts together on the vaccine roll-out. But the government’s number one priority during this pandemic has been to protect capitalism at the expense of the people, so this vaccine mess shouldn’t be a shocker. I mean, they’re denying us Medicare for All during a freaking pandemic that’s killed 541,000 people so far. People are being evicted and unhoused people living in tents are being harassed by police, all during a freaking pandemic. Our well-being is clearly not the priority.

Still, I can’t help but be appalled how this pandemic has proven (again) that here in the United States, the world’s most expensive health care “system” is the least effective. More than half a million people dead . . . and counting.

Hidey-hole

April 27, 2020

Writing is an amazing place to hide, to go into the rabbit hole, and pull the trap door down over your head.  ~ Ann Patchett

Note: I didn’t have any rabbit hole photos so opted for this hole in the neighbor’s crab apple tree that hosted a pair of chickadees last spring. (Photos by Zippy)

Gratitude on a Monday

Today I’m grateful for my wavy hair that hides scissors-related mistakes. I haven’t had a professional haircut in over a year and just cut my own for the third time during this no-end-in-sight pandemic. Does it look like a pro cut? Nope. Do I care? Not at all. Do I feel better now? Absolutely!

Tracy post-cut. February 8, 2021

Here’s a photo taken with my Android phone camera (that takes incredibly low-quality selfies). Looking at it, I already see some too-long strands here and there. Not to mention I appear slightly cross-eyed. ūüėā

Whatever. I’m relieved to have less hair to deal with and am now ready to face the coming week.

 

 

eta: adding this other photo because it shows more egregious hair errors!:

 

Better than it looks

Did the healthy thing today: got up and out of the house. After walking Emma in our neighborhood, Zippy and I went to Clear Creek in Golden. This time, I brought my camera. We sat on the boulders lining the creek to eat the lunch Zippy prepared, listening to the rushing water and the geese honking as they flew overhead. An absolutely stellar mental health strategy. 10/10 recommend.

Ice, snow, and water rushing over a rock in Clear Creek. January 12, 2021.

I’m going to make Clear Creek a habit.

 

Twofer Tuesday: shadow edition

I’m making a concerted effort to focus my gaze on activities and topics that bring joy rather than churning anxiety. Today, along with Zippy and Emma, I went out in the BLOWY sunshine to hike/run on the trails. I felt so much better as a result, even if I did have to carry my running hat that would NOT stay on my head.

Yesterday’s act of self-care was to photograph lovely shadows on the patio. Here are two of my favorites (the one on the right also contains sunflower stalk shadows):

         

So much going on in the world demands our push-back, but sometimes I need to  lower my gaze and focus on the small stuff. Sunshine, wrought-iron patio furniture, and shadows. Who knew?